Photo credit:© Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
The Stanchies: Canucks take down Kraken 5-1 on The Night of Nils
3 months ago
Allow me to rizz with you for a moment.
Rick Tocchet spoke after the Sharks game earlier this week about the concept of the team needing to be comfortable with uncomfortableness. About those moments when the team would be pushing for goals in close games, trying to break it wide open, but hitting a wall. He spoke about how the team needed to become okay with that, to make sure that frustration didn’t take over.
It’s on par with a car driving in front of you with their turn signal on, but they never change lanes. You go blocks wondering what their end game is, and the desire to throw bricks at them rises, but you have to maintain that Rick Tocchet level of calmness. Even if you see them on their phone, driving really slow trying to buy the latest Stanchies merch from Nation Gear, you must find your centre.
And while the loss to Colorado surely stung on Wednesday, the Canucks managed to put Tocchet’s Zenyatta-like philosophy to the test by locking up a 5-1 win over the Kraken when at times it felt like the game might slip away from them. You could almost picture Tocchet whispering “Harmony is within your grasp…” as the Canucks started the third period holding a mere one goal lead over the hometown Kraken. In fact, if you just checked the box scores and advanced stats of the game, you’d think this was an easy blowout win led by noted NHL superstar Nils Aman. You’d look at the stats and wonder if the Canucks should offer a two year $2 million dollar deal to struggling Elias Pettersson on a “show me” contract. You’d be pondering when the right time would be to lock up defensive specialist Tyler Myers to a new deal.
Alas, life is rarely that easy, so let’s dive into the meat of this game. To see how the Canucks took over a game that looked anything but certain for two periods, and to try and figure out which member of royalty will show up to Friday’s game.
You want it, I want it, let’s go make some gif money.
Best pre-game buzz
The big news before the game was twofold:
One, Andrei Kuzmenko was being taught a lesson. Taken all the way to the woodshed. All in the hopes of making his game one that Rick Tocchet would be proud to call his son.
Basically, if you’re not scoring, suddenly those defensive lapses stop being cute and cuddly and they end up feeling a lot more pointed and menacing. I think Tocchet referencing EP40’s line as looking a little too “methodical” is about the politest way of saying “I need those mf’rs to crash the mf-ing net more often” that he could come up with.
As for the speculation surrounding Pettersson’s injury, Elias himself weighed in on it all Friday morning, claiming he feels good. Which is exactly what he wants you to think, because NHL players tend to go full Jack Bauer mode before admitting to an injury, much less specify what kind of injury it might be.
And the second takeaway from all of this is that, yes, Cole McWard, Detective McWard, the Crime DAWG himself, was called up by the Canucks to join the team.
As an enthusiast of Cole McWard’s meme of him looking like a grizzled detective, I hope he sticks with the team for at least a couple of games, so I can write Max Payne-type dialogue in The Stanchies.
“Collecting pucks had gotten old a few hundred games back. I was already so far past the point of no return I couldn’t even remember what it looked like when I had passed it. All I knew was there was a 5-1 loss on my hands, and I didn’t have any gloves.”
Best creation of the Nearly Nils line
With the shakeup in the lines, we got to see the Professor of Pressure Phillip Di Giuseppe (a name I google every single time to get the right spelling) showcase his forechecking prowess to new friends Nils Aman and Nils Höglander, who I assume did nothing but mock him for not having the first name of Nils:
As the broadcast would later tell us, the Kraken are very good at causing turnovers and snagging takeaways, so the Canucks coming out of the gates and letting them know they were going to go chop for chop with them is what the old heads call “tone setting”.
It was also what we in the rizz biz call “spoiler alerting” because this line had some very solid answers to the Seattle Kraken on the night, due mostly to their, you guessed it, ability to hammer their opponents and make them question their will to live.
Best blue-ing yourself
They teach you week one in journalism school that anytime you can work Raffi into a Canucks crossover, you have to take it. And in this case, Baby Blueger (his nickname is now set in stone, Raffi called his shot) scored a beauty of a goal for his first as a Vancouver Canuck:
With the Canucks in penalty trouble for most of the first period, Blueger chased down the play while shorthanded, read a pass that he clearly anticipated, and then finished it off with some slick little dingle dangles:
That’s a very nice goal. I think one of the major things we’ve seen this season is how even upgrading your bottom depth can have an impact on your team. Clearly the top players are the engine of this team, but watching them go out and then seeing Juho Lammikko go out and try to score some goals wasn’t exactly what you would call inspiring. Hell, even the best of that lot Tyler Motte (rhymed it) was known mostly for his ability to generate breakaways but not finish on them.
Having better depth that you can move in and around the lineup and don’t have to worry about sheltering major weak spots? That’s been huge for the Canucks this season.
Take away Blueger’s goal and he was still forechecking and causing turnovers:
The high flip pass could easily have been a New York Jets moment of shame, but instead, Baby Blueger skates hard after the puck and causes it to bounce loose at the blueline, which allows Anthony Beauvillier to scoop the puck up and feed it to Brock Boeser for the scoring chance.
And if you take it back before the Blueger goal, Dakota Joshua almost scored a shorthanded breakaway himself when he skated hard up the middle once he saw the Canucks snag the turnover on the zone entry:
Again, we keep talking about caveats and we all know the season will have ups and downs, but one thing that seems pretty locked in is the fact the Canucks’ depth players have not been this strong in many a year. In fact, it’s hard to remember many nights where the Canucks’ bottom six straight out carried the team to a win like they did on Friday night.
Like, you have to try really really hard to make a Jayson Megna-like joke nowadays. There just isn’t a lot of room for that on the roster. The closest you can get is talking about Juulsen’s play, and to his credit, aside from one big miscue, he had himself a very strong game.
And without Megna jokes, all we’re left with is a winning team and Trevor Linden advertisements for penis pills.
Or powder. It might be powder. I’m not quite sure.
The end point is it’s a strange new world, one in which we’re all trying to get used to it.
Best sneaking it in
Much like that time you snuck that footlong Subway sandwich into the theatre, all it takes is one eagle eye and you’re busted:
The Kraken had thought they scored on this play, and I was ready to absolutely eviscerate the Canucks on the ice, really sewer them, to the point where they would demand a trade to escape my tirades. Who does Blueger think he is point fingers like that on the ice? Who is he to steal Bo Horvat’s old number?
However, the Kraken tried to cheat the game of hockey, as well as you, the reader, by entering the offensive zone before the puck had fully crossed the blue line:
It’s stuff like this that caused the Seattle SuperSonics to leave town.
A lot of reporters aren’t brave enough to connect the dots, but I am.
Best doing his thing
It’s hard to remember last year when Demko was a bad goaltender because it just isn’t the sort of thing we’re used to seeing. When he was battling it out for starts with Spencer Martin and Colin Delia it all felt a bit surreal. Even worse was that on some nights it DID feel like Spencer Martin gave them the best chance to win?
But apparently getting rid of injuries and fatigue is beneficial for a starting goaltender in the NHL? I’ll have to run it by Kevin Woodley, but that’s my current working theory.
Which is why we’re seeing saves like this again on the reg:
There were two notable “Oh Noah, what is you doing baby” moments in this game on what was otherwise a very solid night for #47, and this was one of them. Has his head down, gets his pocket picked behind the net like he’s taking the Skytrain to Surrey Central, and before you know it Demko has to make a five-alarm save on the play.
Now I know what you’re thinking, was it Demko that really made the save, or was it the all white pads doing the work? It’s pretty clear all white pads are the devils work, but this save felt like it was all Thatcher.
Best cheap plug, right here, in Vancouver, British Columbia
What Stanchies merch?
Best true chaos
If you asked any Canucks fan “Who would be the most likely player on the team to high stick both their teammate, and an opponent, on the same play, who would it be?” I am confident every single one of them, without blinking, would calmly whisper the name “Tyler Myers.”:
Tyler Myers not only got a double minor for high sticking on this play, but he also dropped one of the team’s best players in JT Miller with one swipe of his stick as well.
Look, ever since that Nashville game, Tyler Myers game has been remarkably consistent and low event. But every once in a while, he gets that Nicolas Cage glint in his eye, that Castor Troy fervour, and you know the Chaos Giraffe is about to make an appearance.
The Canucks, however, killed off all of the penalties they took in the first period. This is where we talk about how good teams find a way to win tired by showing the stat Jeff Paterson dropped on us:
That’s a J-Pats insight bomb right there. Take it one step further and fast forward to the end of the game and the Kraken ended up with 24 shots, with only four of them being considered high and dangerous enough to be put on a list.
Watching the game, it was an ugly one. There were times when it felt like the Canucks were playing with fire and that with a bounce here or there, Seattle would be right back in the game or take the lead.
But this goes back to what Rick Tocchet spoke upon. Winning games when you’re uncomfortable. And it’s hard to argue that the Canucks didn’t do just that on this night.
Best live by the sword die by the sword
Miley Cyrus once wrote a song about this hit:
Nils Höglander can be a very physical player, and honestly he always has been. We’re just seeing him combine scoring chances, puck retrieval, and that physicality into one package at the NHL level on a consistent basis these last few weeks.
Which leads to moments like this where Nils has someone in front of him, sees a train tunnel painted on the rock wall in front of him, and he just goes full Looney Tunes. The hit was so hard it appeared to aggravate a previous injury of Tanev’s and he was forced to leave the game.
And to Brandon Tanev’s credit, he accepted his fate. He is no stranger to trying to drop a weight on someone’s head and having it backfire on you. He doesn’t write a letter of complaint to ACME, he just moves on with his life.
Best y’all got anymore of them Sharks games?
Quinn Hughes ending the season as the points leader was always a big ask, but having Kucherov go full double fisted beer, Steve Austin mode certainly doesn’t help either.
Best serving up delish pizza
Passing the puck right up the middle of your own zone is a delicate process at the best of times, and usually something you leave up to Quinn Hughes. If Hughes makes a mistake, you kind of shrug your shoulders and say “What can you do.” You have that faith in him that he made the right decision.
When Ian Cole does it, however…
It’s possible he thought Anthony Beauvillier was going to be waiting on the rails for that outlet pass, but even with that, it feels like the kind of dangerous play JD Burke would make in beer league.
After the game, Rick Tocchet spoke about how the team quickly realized they were doing it a little too much in the second period and adjusted for the final frame.
“We gave a couple of blind passes in the slot, I heard a couple of guys say we can’t do that. Obviously they did a good job in the third.”
Best of the Seattle Kraken
Seattle pushed back the hardest in the second period, limiting the Canucks to getting their first shot at the 12 minute mark of the period. Demko stood tall though, and as we talked about, the Kraken got chances, but not really chances, you know?
It’s like when someone asks you to pay for dinner so you pretend to tap your card and then you make a bunch of beep boop bop noises and get up and walk away.
The Canucks let the Kraken jog beside them in the second period, but by the time the third period rolled around, they were shouting “On your left” and lapping the Kraken.
And look, I don’t want to crash your browser so I won’t put the gif in, but Nils Höglander had a nice play where he took the puck back into his zone and then circled back to power by his check and start a nice offensive rush.
If you’d prefer it be visualized via Jane Austen once again, don’t worry, I have you covered:
“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle (of the ice) before I knew that I had begun.”
Best getting rizzy with it
You want to see a goal so greasy it got its own Happy Meal?
That’s the kind of goal that usually requires hard hats and road signs.
Once again the Canucks bottom six comes through huge when Dakota Joshua finished off a goal that felt like everyone on the ice helped make happen. Technically only Aman and Garland got assist on the goal, but Juulsen makes a nice pass on the play to Ian Cole for the shot that starts the entire sequence.
The best part of the goal? Dakota punching the glass like he’s Ryan Kesler in Nashville, taunting the Kraken fans with how strong and virile he is.
I think he was jacked about the goal?
Hard to tell though.
Best oh Noah what is you doing baby
The other “uh oh” moment for Noah was this pinch that led to a rush for the Kraken:
I bring this clip up mostly to showcase how little we’ve seen things like this compared to last season.
Last year it felt like the world’s worst competition between Tyler Myers and OEL to see who could pinch the hardest and produce the least amount of goodwill out of it. At one point it felt like Tyler Myers was pinching below the goal line to make a hit while killing off a 5 on 3.
This year, though? Tocchet’s structure, man. The team doesn’t really go all in on these chances, or if they do, they have someone backing it up. That to me has been the biggest difference under Tocchet compared to Bruce; The fact there feels like an organized system is in place.
That and there’s no longer a wrestling belt being handed out.
You take the good with the bad, you know.
Best of the Brushin’ Brocket
The Canucks top players didn’t do much on the scoresheet, but Brock Boeser did make one nice alley-oop pass like the world is his NBA Jam oyster:
Ilya Mikheyev, as one does, skates very fast to make a play out of it, but a nicely timed poke check thwarted him.
It was around this time that it felt like the ice was starting to tilt, and if this was a Rocky movie, the Canucks were the ones starting to throw wild overhand lefts and rights that caused Mr. T to backpaddle furiously.
Or for the Jane Austen version of The Stanchies, “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and score on them in our turn?”
Best watch out for that counter punch
Elias Pettersson’s wrist and groin have never been the subject of as much scrutiny as they have been this year. ‘EP40 watch’ has basically become the TMZ of Vancouver. People start breaking down video of the tape on his wrist and slowing the frames down on the videos to try and see the exact moment his heart broke when Lisa just wanted to bee friends.
And it certainly doesn’t help when this touch on the puck is what leads directly to the Kraken’s first goal of the game:
Normally Elias works under the same rules as Quinn Hughes. The one where Hughes could skate the puck back into his own zone and go bar down on Demko and people would still be like “ok let’s hear him out, I’m sure he had a reason for doing this” after the game. You build up some good will in this city when you play at a high level.
Not a lot, mind you. This is a cold, angry city.
But enough that you get some breaks here and there for the occasional miscue.
When you’re not playing at the same high level over the course of several weeks, however?
That’s when people start doing the Zapruder films on you.
EP40 can say he’s not hurt all he wants, but it’s hard to argue that at the very least, he’s not playing at the same level as he did to start the season.
Best back and to the left
Does he always tape his wrist?
Is it multiple injuries?
Does he simply have wrist tape to hide razors so he can blade during any impromptu wrestling match that might pop up? I heard Sebastien Wolfe’s entrance music at one point during the game, crazier crossovers have happened.
We don’t know enough to make a closing argument on his injury status, but if there is one guy who can get to the bottom of this, it’s the Crime Dawg Cole McWard.
Clearly, they called him up for a reason.
Best whatever works
There is chaos, and then there is controlled chaos:
This is controlled chaos. Watch as he slowly extends a leg to kick the puck back into the corner, right where he wants it.
He’s not swimming on the ice, screaming about bees.
No, this is a chaos giraffe having a nice gentle stretch before going out into the fields to graze some trees.
Best hit me with your best shot
It is both equally parts badass and horribly frightening when one of your top players is out there constantly blocking shots:
If Ryan Kesler taught us anything it’s that breaking your body for your team is very appreciated, but you also kind of want them to dial it back a bit? At least save it for the playoffs? I still have nightmares of Ryan Kesler breaking his hand trying to make a glove save against the Dallas Stars.
Cool as shit? Of course it is. Doing an around the world with your bare hand is the dream of any young boy, just ask Jonathan Quick. But it comes with a price.
I just don’t think JT Miller has it in him to not block shots, however. He has it in him to not backcheck, but he’s never met a shot he doesn’t want to block.
And after watching Soucy go on the IR after what looked like an innocent short little shot hit his foot, you can’t help but wince every time Miller lays his body on the line to stop some rubber.
Best Laff it off
You know there is one movie to describe this goal from Hronek:
Filip: Listen, I think we got started off on the wrong foot. Stan Goodspeed, FBl. Uh – Let’s talk music. Do you like the Elton John song, “Rocket Man”?
Joey: I don’t like soft-ass shit.
Filip: Oh, you – Oh, oh. Oh. Well, I only bring it up because, uh, it’s me. I’m the Rocket Man.
That shot ends this game. I’m sorry, I don’t care how much time was left on the clock at this point, but the Kraken were done after this shot. This is the “Team Kill” in Overwatch that is so brutal and efficient in nature that you just quietly pull your team from the queue and go play Diablo instead.
And I know it was tipped by Sam Lafferty and he got credit for the goal. But I just have to give kudos to the amount of pure power Hronek unleashed in that shot. Anytime you get me thinking of the good ol’ days of Sami Salo slapshot power, you’re doing something right.
My favourite part aside from that shot, though? Ilya Mikheyev going full Mario Lemieux with the pass through:
I can almost see Paul Kariya rifling that puck home as Mario lets that puck go through his legs.
Just a brilliant piece of work from the Canucks, all the way down to the Elias Pettersson faceoff win.
Best going full Hög
I am kind of with Brough on this one, the desire to push Nils higher in the lineup will be there, but having a consistent bottom six line produce like this? That feels like an optimal situation:
I love the confidence of Nils to not try and force a pass through over to Garland in this situation. A lot of times you see someone trying to facilitate when they’re struggling, such as Kuzmenko forcing it over to Mikheyev at times.
Höglander, perhaps embiggened by committing a crime in front of Prince Harry and getting away with it, comes down with the wing with full confidence and just unleashes his shot for the goal.
And yes, that was Nils Aman winning the board battle that started that rush. The Nils travel in packs, we all know this.
Oh, yeah, the Canucks were out-shooting Seattle 9-0 with 5 minutes left in the third period, in case you wanted to know how strong of a vice grip they had on this game.
Winning tired? They figured that one out on Friday.
Best tweet it again, tweet it doucement
This edition of the Canucks has no issue stunting on their opponents in third periods and I am here for it:
Clearly other teams will have long memories and if the chance presents itself, they will gladly put a ten spot up on the Canucks.
But you know what, the Canucks win games like this and it feels like they do it without showboating. It’s weirdly devoid of emotion. You don’t even see opponents getting that riled up over it, it’s like they accept the Canucks are just doing their jobs out there.
Best throwing bombs
Unless you’re Yanni Gourde.
In which case I believe Jane Austen has some thoughts.
“There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best rizz can overcome.”
“And your defect is a propensity to hate everybody.”
“And yours,” he replied with a smile, “is wilfully to misunderstand them.”
“And your defect is a propensity to hate everybody.”
“And yours,” he replied with a smile, “is wilfully to misunderstand them.”
Best jersey Botch
A second Tryamkin jersey in one season? Truly glorious.
Best closing arguments
Tyler Myers? Good.
Nils Aman? Fantastic.
Elias Pettersson? Not hurt at all.
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